Build it splendidly, and they will come.
That’s certainly the case at Monogram Coffee, situated in an isolated strip mall in Calgary’s Altadore neighbourhood, miles from any centre of commerce. Yet the obscure location hasn’t stopped local java aficionados from finding and frequenting this little cafe, which has already expanded since opening last year. It doesn’t hurt that it’s handy to a dog park, with space outside to hitch the pooch while getting your caffeine fix.
The reasons for this overnight success? Of course, there’s first-rate coffee, roasted and served by three buddies—Justin, Jeremy and Ben—with two decades experience in the business and a number of national barista championships under their belts.
Then there’s a short menu of unique, well-executed food offerings. Like thick slices of toast smothered in honey, toasted hazelnuts and labneh (strained yogurt), though a tad pricy at $6 and up. Or caneles, a French pastry with a custardy centre and caramelized crust. A bit strange, though, that there’s no board listing the food and coffee menu and prices.
Monogram also exudes an understated, hipster vibe, with unadorned, shared wooden tables and benches; not the kind of place you come for a quiet business meeting, or staring at a screen, for that matter. The nice little touches continue with charming mugs of handmade pottery and enamel, the latter with words on the bottom like “wonder” or “warmth”, revealed as the cup empties.
Finally, an active Twitter account (@monogramco) helped build some buzz before the place opened and promoted the recent launch of a second location, this one right in the high-traffic downtown core.
All these little things provide a blueprint for how to stand out in Calgary’s crowded independent coffee market.
4814 16 Street SW (second location at 420 2 Street SW), Calgary
Weekdays 6:30 am-9 pm, Saturday 7:30 am-9 pm, Sunday 7:30 am-6 pm (the downtown location opens at 6 am on weekdays, 8 am on weekends)